Recruiting on campus

The job of a military recruiter is not an easy one. Recruiting future soldiers and sailors in America’s all-volunteer armed forces often requires hours of courting teenagers who have yet to graduate high school. While some students are drawn to the idea of serving their country, others have no concept of the discipline and sacrifices of military life compared to a college career or entering the job market directly.

A new law approved by Congress earlier this year will give recruiters a boost in finding future candidates for military service. As part of the No Child Left Behind education bill, public schools and private schools receiving federal funds will be required to provide recruiters with the names, addresses and phone numbers of high school juniors and seniors. The law also requires schools to offer military recruiters the same access to their campuses that college recruiters enjoy.

There is a growing opposition to this tactic by those who claim it to be a violation of privacy while some of the country’s most liberal school districts are offended by the simple presence of the military at their schools.

High schools have always been fertile ground for military recruiters who are often found working next to recruiters from colleges and technical schools. Providing names and addresses to the military isn’t exactly like providing personal information to telemarketing firms. Like sex education, parents may “opt out,” allowing schools to withhold this information.

Parents, however, shouldn’t be offended if their son or daughter is sent a letter or brochures promoting the merits of military service. The military is still voluntary service. Exposing students to the benefits of serving and protecting America shouldn’t be considered an invasion of privacy.

There was a time when our young people received a more personal letter from the federal government a letter that opened with the words: “Greetings from your President…” This, of course, put a young man on notice that he had been drafted. While no one has been drafted for three decades, taking phone calls or reading letters from recruiters is the least our young people can do these days.

There are more options than ever before for students graduating from high school, including high paying jobs, college, public service and service in the military. The military requires more than 200,000 new recruits each year to maintain adequate armed forces. While military life may not be for everyone, every student should have an opportunity to learn specifics about military service. Providing a closer bond between our high schools and military recruiters is the least we can do to help protect a country whose young people have a proud history defending our freedoms.

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